Our flight from San Francisco to Sydney was mostly uneventful. We left nearly an hour late because United had canceled their flight to Melbourne and were trying to get some of the people onto our flight; there was a bit of turbulence – enough for the captain to tell the flight attendants to stay in their jump seats for at least 30 minutes; the belt at baggage claim mysteriously stopped for quite a while before finally delivering our bags. But the various delays may have worked in our favor; we arrived at the Shangri-La before 9am and our room was ready (official check-in time is 3pm), so we were able to drop our bags and even do a little unpacking before heading out to explore.
AussieWalk IVV, the Australian affiliate of the International Volkssport Association, offers year-round walks in a few Australian cities. Today, we did their Sydney City 12k walk, which let us explore the central part of Sydney.
We stopped at Dutch Smugglers Coffee for some light refreshment and even lighter caffeine on our way to the starting point of the walk. We stopped again at the Customs House to take the first of many selfies today before reaching the official starting point, across the street at Circular Quay railway station.
Easter Monday is a public holiday here, and there were a lot of people enjoying their day off (as well as plenty of tourists from all over the world), so it was crowded. We didn’t linger at the station; instead, we walked along the concourse, passing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House along our way.
I wondered what was on top of the bridge in the first picture, so I zoomed in – the top of the bridge is a tourist attraction!
The walk took us through part of the Royal Botanic Garden – we could have spent the rest of the day there! There were many unfamiliar plants and animals there, like these Yellow Buttons and Australian White Ibis, both of which we’d see again and again throughout the day.
We walked around the waterfront enjoying the views until we reached Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, where we had to answer the first question of four to prove we’d done the volksmarch.
We continued walking along the bay all the way to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, where we left the Royal Botanic Garden proper for The Domain and thence for Macquarie Street and some of Sydney’s most famous buildings, including the State Library, the State Parliament House, Sydney Hospital (with Il Porcellino, the wild boar, in front), the old Sydney Mint, and the Hyde Park Barracks.
The next part of the trip took us through Sydney’s Chinatown, a very busy place.
And then we returned to the future, passing by The Exchange and one of the many no-pay payphones we saw all across Sydney which provide continent-wide calls for free.
The next part of the path took us through Darling Harbour, passing the International Exhibition Centre, the National Maritime Museum, and onward to the Barangaroo Reserve.
We walked around the Reserve on the Wulugul Walk, and then by the Walsh Bay development, filled with restaurants, museums, and other artwork.
We were nearly back to our starting point; we walked under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and had one more look at the Opera House.
Then it was back to Circular Quay to finish the walk, with a brief stop at Cadman’s Cottage to find the sculpture which was the answer to the last question for the Volksmarch.
We had dinner at a local pub (Endeavour Tap Rooms) and took another walk to Circular Quay to admire the Opera House by night (and for me to have some gelato).
The jet lag is catching up with us – but I think we did pretty well for our first day in Sydney.